Matosevic dominates to reach semis
In a vast improvement on his first-round match, Marinko Matosevic dismissed Luke Saville in straight sets on Wednesday while defending AO Play-off champ Jordan Thompson exited.
On Wednesday, there was little sign of the rust that plagued Marinko Matosevic in his scratchy, five-set opening match of the Australian Open 2016 Play-off.
The Victorian produced an assured performance to see off Luke Saville and remind everybody of the form that once saw him ranked in the top 40.
“I told you guys I just needed that one long match. I told you I was good for that long one,” he said to the assembled media following his 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory.
“Match play, that was the difference. When I’m playing matches regularly, my level is high.”
Yet it was not only a case of playing more matches.
Matosevic credited his work on the practice court with Todd Woodbridge – who has mentored him for several years – as another factor in his improved showing.
“We had a session yesterday, and we had a session this morning, and he saw a few things and straight away cleaned my game up in two days,” Matosevic revealed.
And with his game in better working order, he was a class above Saville.
For all of Saville’s consistency and athleticism, he lacked the point-ending power that allowed Matosevic to take points by the scruff of the neck.
The No.7 seed’s ball-striking was magnificent as he scored early breaks in both the second and third sets en route to victory in far less time than the three hours and 40 minutes for which he laboured in the first round.
“I can play better than that, obviously, but definitely from the first match it was a much better performance,” he said.
“It just came more naturally – I wasn’t second guessing myself. I didn’t have to think, ‘what happened there?’ I just knew straight away.
“It could have been actually easier. He managed to scramble out of some really good points with some good defence. But I let him off the hook a few too many times.”
In the semifinals, Matosevic faces top seed James Duckworth, who was a comfortable 6-4 6-4 6-3 winner over Marc Polmans.
Matosevic has not lost to Duckworth in four career meetings, including in the final of the Australian Open 2012 Play-off.
Later on Wednesday there was a big upset, with No.2 seed and two-time defending champion Jordan Thompson falling in five sets to Bradley Mousley.
Mousley, an Australian Open junior semifinalist in 2014, beat Thompson 4-6 7-5 4-6 7-6(5) 6-4.
He will face the winner of Wednesday’s last quarterfinal between No.4 seed Ben Mitchell and Matt Barton.
The Australian Open 2016 Play-off runs from 14-20 December at Melbourne Park. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AOPlayoff.